James Strange French

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James Strange French (1807-1886) was a lawyer, novelist, and later hotel keeper.


Early life

James Strange French was born in 1807. He was educated at the College of William & Mary and the University of Virginia, then read law with his uncle Robert Strange in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

College of William & Mary public research university located in Williamsburg, Virginia

The College of William & Mary is a public research university in Williamsburg, Virginia. Founded in 1693 by letters patent issued by King William III and Queen Mary II, it is the second-oldest institution of higher education in the United States, after Harvard University.

University of Virginia University in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

The University of Virginia is a public research university in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was founded in 1819 by Declaration of Independence author Thomas Jefferson. It is known for its historic foundations, student-run honor code, and secret societies. UVA is the flagship university of Virginia and home to Jefferson's Academical Village, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Robert Strange American politician

Robert Strange was a Democratic U.S. senator from the state of North Carolina between 1836 and 1840.


In 1831, French represented Nat Turner, as well as a number of other slaves accused of participating in Nat Turner's slave rebellion. [1] French was joined in defending slaves by Meriwether Brodnax, William Henry Brodnax, Thomas Ruffin Gray, who published The Confessions of Nat Turner and is commonly referred to as Nat Turner's lawyer, and William C. Parker. Those assertions are not entirely true. Meriwether B. Brodnax (sometimes written Merewether B. Broadnax) was a prosecutor, and his brother William Henry Brodnax is not mentioned in the court minutes. William C. Parker was assigned by the court to represent Nat. [2] [3] In 1835, French helped secure the commutation of a sentence of a slave, Boson, who had been sentenced to death following the rebellion, then escaped from the Sussex County jail. [4]

Nat Turner American slave rebellion leader

Nat Turner was an enslaved African-American mystical preacher who led a two-day rebellion of both enslaved and free black people in Southampton County, Virginia, beginning August 21, 1831. The rebellion caused the death of approximately 60 white men, women and children. Whites organized militias and called out regular troops to suppress the uprising. In addition, white militias and mobs attacked blacks in the area, killing an estimated 120, many of whom were not involved in the revolt.

Nat Turners slave rebellion slave rebellion that took place in Southampton County, Virginia, during August 1831

Nat Turner's Rebellion was a slave rebellion that took place in Southampton County, Virginia, in August 1831, led by Nat Turner. Rebel slaves killed from 55 to 65 people, at least 51 being white. The rebellion was put down within a few days, but Turner survived in hiding for more than two months afterwards. The rebellion was effectively suppressed at Belmont Plantation on the morning of August 23, 1831.

William H. Brodnax, was a nineteenth-century American militia Brigadier General and American politician from Virginia.

French was the author of at least two novels. The first, Sketches and Eccentricities of Col. David Crockett of West Tennessee, [5] appeared in 1833. The second, Elkswatawa, [6] was set in the early nineteenth century. It was a romance set around Tecumseh's War. It portrayed Native Americans sympathetically and, thus, may contain some clues to French's attitudes towards the legal system's treatment of Natives and slaves. Edgar Allan Poe published a critical review of it in Southern Literary Messenger in 1836. [7] Though they had studied together at the University of Virginia, Poe was quite critical of the plot and prose. French married Laura J. George on June 6, 1850 in "Willow Grove", Tazewell County, Virginia.

Tecumsehs War

Tecumseh's War or Tecumseh's Rebellion was a conflict between the United States and an American Indian confederacy led by the Shawnee leader Tecumseh in the Indiana Territory. Although the war is often considered to have climaxed with William Henry Harrison's victory at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, Tecumseh's War essentially continued into the War of 1812, and is frequently considered a part of that larger struggle. The war lasted for two more years, until the fall of 1813, when Tecumseh, as well as his second-in-command, Roundhead, died fighting Harrison's Army of the Northwest at the Battle of the Thames in Upper Canada, near present-day Chatham, Ontario, and his confederacy disintegrated. Tecumseh's War is viewed by some academic historians as being the final conflict of a longer term military struggle for control of the Great Lakes region of North America, encompassing a number of wars over several generations, referred to as the Sixty Years' War.

Tazewell County, Virginia County in the United States

Tazewell County is a county located in the southwestern portion of the U.S. state of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 45,078. Its county seat is Tazewell.


French died on February 7, 1886 in Gordonsville, Virginia.

Gordonsville, Virginia Town in Virginia, United States

Gordonsville is a town in Orange County in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. Located about 19 miles northeast of Charlottesville and 65 miles northwest of Richmond, the population was 1,496 at the 2010 census.

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Slave rebellion armed uprising by slaves

A slave rebellion is an armed uprising by slaves. Slave rebellions have occurred in nearly all societies that practice slavery or have practiced slavery in the past. A desire for freedom and the dream of successful rebellion are often the greatest objects of song, art and culture amongst the enslaved population. The events are often brutally opposed by slaveholders.

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John Murrell (bandit) American criminal

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Baptist War slave revolt in Jamaica, 1831-1832

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<i>The Confessions of Nat Turner</i> novel by William Styron

The Confessions of Nat Turner is a 1967 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by U.S. writer William Styron. Presented as a first-person narrative by historical figure Nat Turner, the novel concerns the slave revolt in Virginia in 1831. It is based on The Confessions of Nat Turner: The Leader of the Late Insurrection in Southampton, Virginia, a first-hand account of Turner's confessions published by a local lawyer, Thomas Ruffin Gray, in 1831.

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John Wesley Crockett, was an American politician who represented Tennessee's Twelfth Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. It was the same district his father, David Crockett, had represented earlier.

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James Clark was a 19th-century American politician who served in all three branches of Kentucky's government and in the U.S. House of Representatives. His political career began in the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1807. In 1810, he was appointed to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, where he served for two years before resigning to pursue a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He served two terms in that body, resigning in 1816.

Hello is a salutation or greeting in the English language. It is first attested in writing from 1826.

Thomas Roderick Dew American economist

Thomas Roderick Dew (1802–1846) was a professor at and then president of The College of William & Mary. He was an influential pro-slavery advocate.

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Thomas Ruffin Gray was an attorney who represented several enslaved people during the trials in the wake of Nat Turner's slave rebellion.

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Mahones Tavern

Mahone's Tavern, also known as Kello's Tavern, Vaughn's Tavern and Howard's Hotel, is a historic inn and tavern located in Courtland, Southampton County, Virginia. It was built about 1796, and is a two-story, three-bay, gable-roofed, wood framed structure with exterior gable end chimneys. A rebuilt hyphen and kitchen structure were added in 1933. In 1831, like nearly every standing building in Courtland, or Jerusalem at the time, it became a refuge and gathering place for local citizens during the slave uprising led by Nat Turner, known as the Nat Turner's slave rebellion. The building was also the boyhood home of two persons who later achieved national prominence: Confederate General William Mahone and John J. Kindred, resident from 1859 to 1869, who later became a U.S. Senator from New York. It ceased being used as a tavern or hotel in 1901.

Cherry Turner was an enslaved American Indian in Southampton, Virginia in the early 1800s. She was the wife of slave rebel, Nat Turner.